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Driving towards energy savings

SEW-Eurodrive recently held a seminar where it urged industry to look into selecting individual drive-train components as a means to save energy and reduce costs.

The ‘Driving towards industrial energy savings’ seminar, held by SEW-Eurodrive’s drive solutions group, asked atendees to consider the total life-cycle cost of both the motor and the complete drive system including scenarios where correct sizing and selection of individual drive-train components can optimise system performance, increase energy savings and reduce operating costs.

Seminar presenters, engineering manager, Frank Cerra, and strategic marketing and product manager, Darren Klonowski, provided attendees with an in-depth analysis of electric motor application energy use and highlighted where energy saving could be made.

“A potential saving of up to 2.2 per cent can typically be realised just by incorporating high-efficiency motors into the application,” said Cerra at the seminar.

“But this is really just the tip of the iceberg. A further 9 per cent can be achieved by implementing accurate drive configuration and speed control matched to the application, while a staggering 20 per cent saving can be obtained by optimising the mechanical portion of the drive system.”

While Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS2006) compliance is important, it is perhaps more important to look beyond the motor itself and consider the drive-train as a whole, said the Cerra.

By optimising the entire drive solution–from the gearbox, motor, and the drive electronics, through to the driven machine–enormous savings can be realised, he said.

“These energy savings obviously translate into financial saving, and contribute to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions,” said Cerra.

“This will become even more important with the likely introduction of the carbon emissions trading scheme in 2010, when businesses will be held accountable for their energy wastage.”

Klonowski went on to explain that a significant portion of energy wastage was a result of inefficient operation of the drive application.

“It is not uncommon to see conveyers running ‘flat out’ with nothing on them. By configuring the drive to speed up, slow down or switch off according to throughput demand, enormous amounts of energy can be saved. Similar energy savings can be made by sizing the drive-train components correctly and reducing the use of inefficient transmission elements, such as vee-belts and pulleys,” he said.

According to Cerra, it is the energy consumption of the selected drive technology that has a decisive influence on the operational costs.

“During the life-cycle of a drive system, it is the energy component that constitutes the majority of the total life-cycle cost,” he said.

“Optimising the energy efficiency of each individual system component and combining the drive technology to match the specific application will achieve a significant economic benefit.

“Unfortunately drive system purchasing decisions are often made solely on capital cost, without taking the ongoing operating expenses into account.

“There needs to be mindset shift within the Australian industrial sector to consider the total cost of ownership of the drive application. Purchases should not be made purely based on capital costs.”

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